Thursday, January 15, 2015

Charlotte Bails Out NASCAR Museum: A Lesson For Greensboro

The Triad Business Journal is reporting that the City of Charlotte has just approved a bailout of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina:

"Charlotte City Council members have approved a one-time $5 million payment in exchange for two banks giving up on recouping $17.8 million in loans used to build the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The city spent the past 14 months negotiating with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, NASCAR and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to complete the agreement, approved Monday night by a council vote of 10 to 1.

The move marks the latest concession in the city-owned hall of fame's missed financial projections. The stock-car racing museum, originally predicted to be a profitable tourist attraction, has posted operating losses of $1.4 million to $1.8 million annually."

Why is this important to Greensboro? Let's begin with some facts about NASCAR:

From CNN:

"December 1947 - NASCAR is formed by amateur stock car driver and gas station owner William H.G. (Bill) France, Sr., from Daytona Beach, Florida.
February 15, 1948 - The first NASCAR sanctioned race is held on Daytona's beach course. Red Byron, from Atlanta, wins the event.
February 21, 1948 - NASCAR is incorporated."

That's a really long and successful track record.

From Wikipedia:

NASCAR sanctions over 1500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 US states and Canada. NASCAR has presented exhibition races at the Suzuka and Motegi circuits in Japan, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico, and the Calder Park Thunderdome in Australia."

Also this:

"NASCAR is second only to the National Football League among professional sports franchises in terms of television ratings in the United States.[5][not in citation given] Internationally, NASCAR races are broadcast in over 150 countries.[6] In 2004 NASCAR's Director of Security stated that NASCAR holds 17 of the top 20 regularly attended single-day sporting events in the world.[7] Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR more than any other motor sport"

This is interesting:

"Note 1: The largest NASCAR tracks can accommodate upwards of 190,000 people in the stands and infield, far larger than any non-motorsport venue in North America."

And yet with all that the Business Journal Reports:

"Attendance, estimated to start at 800,000 and level off at 400,000 per year, has yet to hit any of the forecasts. The visitors authority said this month that the most recent annual attendance total — 170,000 — represents a stable figure likely to be consistently reached for the next several years."

What's that, the second biggest sport in the nation and the largest in the Southeastern United States with all those fantastic numbers and over half a century of success can't meet the projected numbers? Just goes to show how much the economic development "gurus" and their computer generated performance models really know about what they're selling us.

Keep this in mind when the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts comes back asking for more City tax dollars to keep the doors open a few years from now. None of these projects ever do what they predict they'll do and yet they keep on peddling the lies.